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State Labor Laws, 2003 - page 3 / 27





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tured at home, while adding an appeal process for the confis- cation and disposition of the goods.

Equal employment opportunity. An Illinois Civil Rights Act of 2003 bars any public-sector employer from discriminating on the basis of race, color, or national origin. An Executive order issued in Arizona prohibits State entities from discrimi- nating on the basis of sexual orientation, and New Mexico now bans employment discrimination based on sexual orien- tation and gender identity. Gender identity discrimination is also now prohibited in California and in Pennsylvania for State agencies. An Executive order issued in Kansas requires State agencies to adopt policy statements prohibiting sexual ha- rassment. California law was amended to hold employers po- tentially liable for sexual harassment of workers by clients, customers, and other third parties. California also prohibited State agencies from contracting with companies that discrimi- nate against domestic partners in the provision of benefits.

Among other measures that were enacted relating to vari- ous forms of employment discrimination, Illinois employers of four or more employees are prohibited from wage discrimina- tion based upon sex. Illinois also will now prohibit employers from placing native language restrictions on employees dur- ing non-job-related activities. Vermont revised mandatory retirement age limits for State Supreme Court justices, and Wyoming removed the upper age limit for age discrimination protection. Training will be required for certain State employ- ees on disability employment law in California, and on State and Federal discrimination laws and investigation techniques in Connecticut.

The Florida Attorney General may now bring civil action for damages, and school districts in South Dakota may con- sider the sex of an employee for employment duties in locker rooms.

Worker privacy. Over the last few years, several States have adopted legislation providing immunity from civil liability to employers who furnish information about a current or former employee’s job performance to a prospective or current em- ployer. New measures were adopted in Louisiana and in Utah for law enforcement employers. Asimilar law in Montana was repealed. Provision was also made for the disclosure, under certain circumstances, of peace officer records in California, and Indiana public employee disciplinary action records.

Laws were enacted providing for the confidentiality of employee information in Arkansas for non-elected municipal and county officials; in Florida concerning employee assis- tance information of public employees; in Louisiana for direct deposit payroll information and medical records; in North Dakota for mediation records; in Ohio for firefighter and emer- gency medical technician personnel records; in Oregon for

public safety officer photographs; and in Virginia for nursing facility staff records and reports.

Workplace violence/security. A growing body of legislation is being enacted addressing issues of workplace violence and security. Background checks for workers in various sensitive positions were enacted in 2003 in North Dakota, Texas, Utah, and Virginia.

Employee leasing. Arkansas repealed its Employee Leasing Act and replaced it with a comprehensive Professional Em- ployer Organization Recognition and Licensing Act. Profes- sional employer organizations in Utah will now be required to register annually rather than be licensed, and the Montana law was amended to add an exemption for certain arrange- ments by healthcare facilities.

Private employment agencies. The trend of easing regula- tion of the industry continued this year with Maryland elimi- nating the licensing and regulation of employment agencies and employment counselors; Minnesota repealing the law regulating and requiring licensing of entertainment agencies; with Louisiana and North Dakota no longer requiring licens- ing of employer-fee-paid employment services; and with Or- egon excluding employment listing services from coverage.

The North Carolina Commissioner of Labor now has the authority to enforce the law dealing with the personal service industry.

In Illinois, employers are now prohibited from knowingly contracting with day and temporary labor service agencies to provide replacements for striking or locked out workers.

Whistleblowers. A Whistleblower Act, applicable to private- sector employers, was enacted in Illinois, protecting employ- ees from retaliation for disclosing information about employer violations of State or Federal laws, rules, or regulations. An Executive order was issued providing similar protection for State agency employees.

Arkansas, California, and Oklahoma expanded the scope of their whistleblower protection acts.

Military re-employment rights. Continuing the trend that began following the events of September 11, 2001, and the ensuing military actions in Afghanistan and Iraq, several ad- ditional jurisdictions enacted legislation related to reinstate- ment rights of reserve or guard members returning from active duty. Many of these measures amended laws to provide guard members with the same rights as provided to those called for Federal duty. Some of the measures provide for supplemental pay or continuation of health benefits while an individual is on military leave.

Monthly Labor Review

January 2004


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